Louisville a #4 Seed? The Top 10 Reasons It Makes Sense
One would think that seeding Louisville a #4 was a crime against humanity. But before digging out your copy of the Geneva Convention or looking up travel information to the Hague, consider that the NCAA committee has long used RPI as a guide. This is not a secret. Just like the committee stopped looking at recency, it is what the committee is supposed to do. The RPI helps gauge schedule strength. In any event, here are the top 10 reasons the Committee got it right in deeming the Cards a 4 seed:
A) RPI–Louisville’s RPI is 20. If RPI was the sole criteria, Louisville would be a 5 seed. We are glad that RPI is NOT the sole criteria. But this is one characteristic that supports the #4 seed.
B) Conference strength. Here is how the conferences were ranked, courtesy of statsheet.com:
|Conf||RPI Rank||Overall RPI||Non-Conf
|Avg RPI||Median RPI||Hi RPI||Low RPI|
This is not even close. The American lags well behind the Big East, as well as the top heavy SEC and the committee darlings in the A-10. And it is not just because of the conference woes–the Non-Conference scheduling was pretty poor also. The worst team in the Big East, DePaul, would have had the 7th highest RPI in the American and be within striking distance of #6. After all, playing Rutgers, South Florida, UCF, and Temple probably would have helped DePaul’s record quite a bit. The American dragged Louisville down–way down.
C) Of course, this is also a matter of Louisville taking care of business when given the opportunity. Against top 50 RPI teams, according to ESPN, Louisville was 5-5.
Look at the comparable records for the 12 teams seeded 1, 2, and 3: 10-2, 11-3, 12-7, 3-0, 6-3, 7-5, 6-5, 5-4, 9-5, 8-5, 10-5, 7-2. All top 3 seeds were above .500 in games against top 50 RPI opponents.
The teams seeded #4? 9-5, 6-5, and 3-3. Like Louisville, San Diego State had a .500 record against top 50 RPI opponents.
D) Let’s expand out to record against top 100 RPI teams:
- Florida 17-2, Arizona 16-4, Wichita State 10-0, Virginia 13-5
- Villanova 16-3, Kansas 18-9, Wisconsin 17-6, Michigan 15-7
- Duke 12-6, Iowa State 15-7, Creighton 14-7, Syracuse 15-3
- UCLA 11-5, San Diego State 6-3, Michigan State 12-8, Louisville 9-5
- VCU 12-7, Oklahoma 11-8, Cincinnati 9-6, St. Louis 9-6
- Ohio State 13-7, Baylor 12-10, UNC 11-6, UMass 13-7
Anything look wrong with that? Louisville, again, seems right in line. Very few games against top 100 teams.
E) Louisville’s 4 wins between 50 and 100 were SMU twice (53), Missouri State (84), and Louisiana-Lafayette (92). Not exactly a crop of elite teams. SMU’s best non-conference win was 20-9 Sam Houston State with an RPI of 113.
F) The Cards had 29 wins, but 20 were against teams with an RPI greater than 100.
G) Of the 20 wins against opponents with an RPI greater than 100, 16 were against teams with an RPI above 150. Actually, it is 16 wins against teams with an RPI of 179 or greater.
H) Louisville was 13-5 against teams in the top 150 of RPI. No other seeded team had less than 16 (San Diego State). The 3 seeds averaged 18 such wins. The 2 seeds averaged 20.8. The 1 seeds averaged 21.
I) LRPI–road/neutral RPI. Louisville is #23. Nobody seeded 1, 2 or 3 was below #13.
J) Louisville’s best non-conference win was Southern Mississippi, a team that is a 3 seed in the NIT. Think about THAT for a second.
As you can see, Louisville simply was not tested. When it was tested, it was wins within a weak conference and losses outside the conference. Wichita State is maligned for its schedule, but the Shockers have one more win against top 100 teams and six more wins against top 150 teams. The committee may have been able to use Louisville’s surge to slide them up into a 2 or 3 seed, but this would have run contrary to the seeding protocol currently in place. There was an ample basis for the #4 seed, even if folks think Louisville is primed to play better than that seeding.